Tuesday, March 15, 2005
As has been reported all over the place, Ebbers - the former CEO of Worldcom (now MCI) - was convicted of all nine counts in his criminal trial today. The reason I link to the Conglomerate.org story is because it asks this question:
Because of this verdict, Mr. Ebbers could spend the rest of his life in prison. Is that proportionate to the crime?
I say yes, and no. And the no is a bit in jest. If you think of the harm the fraud that Ebbers has now been convicted of committing caused, I think a good argument can be made that he deserves much more than life in prison. There should be (and probably will be) some monetary component to his sentence. I certainly think all of his assets should be liquidated towards funding some reparations (primarily to employees who may have lost their jobs, as opposed to big company creditors)

If you think of Ebbers crime compared to that of a serial killer, there is a strong argument that Ebbers (and other massive white collar criminals) do fairly substantially less harm but to a exponentially larger number of people than does a serial killer. Sure Ebbers may not have ended anyone's life, but think of all of the families and lives that were financially ruined because of his crimes? Read here for example. People who suggest that his crime is somehow not worthy of a life-sentence seem, to me, elitist.

They seem to think it is okay for some kid who kills someone at 18 years old to get a life sentence, but for a very well-educated and successful business person who is making a very good living to knowingly steal more knowing full well it will ruin thousands of peoples financial lives a life sentence is not okay? That is just an absurd and unsupportable position to me.

I would strongly argue that 18 year old kid can be reformed and become a productive member of society. The Ebbers-type had their chance (and probably more than their fair share of chances), and clearly shows a total lack of worthy character and is likely beyond reformation. I see no reason to ever let people like that rejoin society.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!



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